Global motorsport update – 30 April 1 May

Rosberg goes 4 from 4 as Kvyat shelters from Vettel
Nico Rosberg’s dream season of Formula 1 continued at Sochi during the Russian Grand Prix, the German untouched and untouchable on his way to a maiden ‘grand slam’, claiming pole position, the fastest race lap, a new lap record and a dominant victory, his fourth in 2016 and his seventh straight win since the closing stages of the 2015 season.

Unsurprisingly it was the two Mercedes-AMG Petronas team-mates who dominated practice, but just as reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton was gearing up for a challenge in the final leg of qualifying, a power unit issue – an issue identical to that which he suffered in China – sidelined the Englishman leaving Rosberg with an untroubled run to his second consecutive pole.

Off the start Rosberg’s life became a whole lot easier, after a desperate lunge by Daniil Kvyat inside Sebastian Vettel eliminated the German Ferrari driver, and all but ended any chance for either of the Red Bull cars with Vettel forced hard into the side of the equally-innocent Dan Ricciardo.

With one of his main rivals eliminated, Rosberg effectively cruised to the line, weathering any storm from team-mate Hamilton who was forced to battle a mid-race water leak in the engine, the team asking him to ease back his assault on the lead, before the issue stabilised and he was freed to take the challenge back to Rosberg.

By that point Rosberg had plenty in reserve, pushing hard to snatch the lap record in the closing stages to put any doubt about his domination of the Sochi event out of question.

Whilst Rosberg’s ongoing domination and wide smile were topics of conversation up and down pit lane, Kvyat’s opening lap error was clearly the greatest point of interest post-race.

Both Ferrari and Vettel were vocal with their reflections of what happened, rubbishing reports that Kvyat was forced to slow suddenly when Vettel had ‘braked suddenly’ for turn two. Even Kvyat’s team-mate Ricciardo suggested that he had no idea where the Russian was going to go, because the corner was filled with cars and there was no opportunity to move forward.

Whilst never ideal to have some of the leading contenders eliminated so early in a race, the emerging conflict between former world champion Vettel and rising star Kvyat has certainly created plenty of interest amongst fans and will do nothing to hurt the profile of the sport, although for Kvyat, too many errors of judgment this early in his career can certainly reflect on his future, so it will be up to him to start to deliver against a team-mate who regularly makes the Russian look very much the team’s number two..

Round five of the 21-round season moves to the Catalunya circuit in Barcelona in two weeks time for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Rnd#4 – 2016 FIA Formula One World Championship
Russian Grand Prix (Sochi)
Race (53-laps)
1. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes-AMG Petronas)
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes-AMG Petronas)
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Scuderia Ferrari)
4. Valtteri Bottas (Williams Martini Racing)
5. Felipe Massa (Williams Martini Racing)

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What’s coming up this week?
• Autobacs Super GT, Fuji, Japan (3-4 May – Rnd#2/8)
• FIA WEC – Spa-Francorchamps (Rnd#3/9)
• MotoGP – French GP, Le Mans, France (Rnd#3/18)
• FIA WTCC Race of Morocco, Marrakech (Rnd#5/12)